Paris City Boy

Writers - Tennant/Lowe/Morales/Soligny
First released - 2003
Original album - PopArt (French edition)
Producer - Pet Shop Boys, David Morales
Subsequent albums - Nightlife 2017 reissue Further Listening 1996-2000 bonus disc
Other releases - (none)

The French edition of PopArt replaces "New York City Boy" with "Paris City Boy," which uses the same music but has a new vocal track recorded by Neil and background vocalists in Paris in July 2003. Some of the lyrics (most of the verses) remain in English, but other lines—including the chorus, with the Champs-Elysées substituting for Seventh Avenue and Broadway—have been translated into French by journalist and songwriter Jérôme Soligny.

This surely rates as one of the most surprising and unusual things the Boys have ever done. Whether it was inspired by recent U.S.-French animosities, by a serious bid for major success in France (where the Pet Shop Boys have tended to be somewhat less successful than in most of the rest of Europe), or by other factors remains to be seen. It will be interesting to hear what Neil and/or Chris have to say about it. But whatever the case, it instantly makes the French PopArt a highly desirable collectible among PSB completists, if not many other dedicated fans.

The French lyrics, by the way, roughly translate as—

Paris city boy, this is the day that you've waited for
You are a Paris city boy
Like a prince on the Champs-Élysées….

You know that this is your chance
You are a Paris city boy
So young, so go back to Paris city….

You won't be bored anymore
You are a Paris city boy

Not surprisingly, not all that different from the original, n'est-ce pas?

In 2017, an alternate "Full French" version was released as a bonus track with the reissue of Nightlife. This rendition is considerably longer, and none of the original English lyrics remain aside from the words "city boy" from the title and "Party up!" repeated several times. Otherwise the lyrics supplied by Soligny are now completely in French and aren't translated at all, but rather mean something entirely different. They're all about winning at football/soccer matches (or perhaps rugby; "Stade Français," mentioned in the new lyrics, is the name of both soccer and rugby teams), complete with references to sweaty jerseys, the "gods of the stadium," deceiving one's opponent, and "mastering the rebound." Neil has confessed that he found the French lyrics difficult to sing.

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